Employees are a company’s most important asset. They impact customer service, productivity, and retention. Their performance, or lack thereof, can make or break a business.

Still, many small to midsize companies do not have professional human resource management staff. Instead, business owners, department managers, and even payroll clerks are tasked with creating workforce policies and procedures from hiring to termination, often erring along the way.

Fortunately, companies can look to the Society for Human Resource Management for assistance.

The voice of all things work, SHRM is a global individual membership organization with 300,000-plus members in 165 countries. Founded in 1948, it is the largest HR industry association. Membership is open to any business person or HR professional.

SHRM has state and local chapters and offers a multitude of online resources essential to managing a workforce regardless of size. Members receive federal, state and local employment law updates, news about critical HR issues (think recent Paid Family and Medical Leave laws), and access to sample HR forms, job descriptions, employee handbooks and other customizable templates, as well as networking and professional development opportunities.

Perhaps best of all, membership also comes with up to 25 no-cost contacts per year with an HR expert adviser.

An annual SHRM membership costs $209 and offers affiliation with SHRM International, SHRM National, and Washington State SHRM. Members can also assign affiliation with the local nonprofit chapter, Yakima SHRM, at no cost. (SHRM is offering a $20 discount for enrolling online.)

“As a small-business owner, I do not have a human resources person or department to turn to when I have questions,” said Kami Allen, owner of Stein’s Ace Hardware. “Becoming an SHRM member allowed me access to policies, forms, and a group of HR professionals that helped guide me in the right direction.”

To find out more about SHRM and how it might benefit your own business or help grow your business networking, visit www.shrm.org.

Michelle Smith is employment engagement analyst for the South Central Workforce Council.